The National Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark has asked the Nigerian Army to be careful in its approach to handling the clashes in the South-East, in order to prevent further escalation of violence.
In a statement released on Thursday, Edwin Clark said “May we remind ourselves of how Boko Haram started in the North-East.
“It was extra-judicial killing of leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, in July, 2009, that led to the Boko Haram insurgency, which we have been trying to fight and contain like a war between two countries”
The statement further said, “We are worried at the quick deployment of military might to suppress defenceless civilians, while some parts of the country are still being tormented by armed and marauding criminal groups.
“The Operation Python Dance I, Operation Crocodile Smile in the Niger Delta and now, Operation Python Dance II in the South-East are unhelpful strategies.
“While calling on the youths of the South-East to be law-abiding, PANDEF wishes to call on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to bring an end to the seeming militarisation of the zone.”
In its statement, PANDEF further asked the Federal Government to look into the grievances and issues which were causing the issues in the South-east and proffer solutions to them.
It said, “PANDEF urges the Federal Government to direct its energies to addressing causes of escalating crescendo of agitations and expressions of disaffection, marginalisation and exclusion raised by people from different parts of the country.
“For example, how can the government justify the fact that the people of the South-East are totally excluded from being represented on the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“Meanwhile, some of the South-East states, especially Imo and Abia and to a lesser extent, Anambra, are heavily oil-producing.
“Out of nine members of the board, the North has six members, including the Chief of Staff to the President while the South-South and South-West have only one member each.
“Furthermore, how can the government justify the fact that the South-East is totally excluded from senior positions of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Security Services and the Paramilitary Services?
“Why will the annual budget of the Federal Government be so much skewed against the South-East and the South-South and heavily lopsided in favour of the North-West and the North-East”